British Indian World War II spy Noor Inayat Khan may be the next face of British currency. A campaign for the same is gaining momentum wherein people are demanding the spy to be featured on a redesigned 50-pound currency note.
The Bank of England had recently announced plans for a new polymer version of the large denomination note to go into print from 2020 and indicated that it would invite public nominations for potential characters to appear on the new note. An official statement from The Bank Of England read;
"The bank will announce a character selection process for the new 50-pound note in due course, which will seek nominations from the public for potential characters to appear on the new note,"
An online petition in favor of the campaign has already garnered over 1,200 signatures by Wednesday, calling for Khan, a descendant of Tipu Sultan and daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan, to be considered as the first ethnic minority British woman to be honored on the currency.
"The new 50-pound note could have anyone on it. I'm backing Noor Inayat Khan. She volunteered for SOE, served bravely as an agent in occupied Europe, was eventually captured and murdered. A Muslim, a woman, a hero of WWII. This would celebrate her courage and all SOE," said Conservative Party MP Tom Tugendhat, who is currently leading the UK Parliament's Global Britain and India Inquiry.
"I am absolutely delighted that the story of Noor Inayat Khan has inspired so many people and that she has become an icon. Noor was an extraordinary war heroine," said Shrabani Basu, the author of Khan's biography 'Spy Princess' and founder-chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust.
The trust was set up in 2010 to campaign for a memorial in honor of the war-time spy, who had been recruited by Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) and infiltrated beyond enemy lines before being captured and killed by the Nazis in 1944, aged only 30. She was the first female radio operator in Nazi-occupied France before she was captured, tortured and killed at the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
Khan's memorial bust now has a permanent home at Gordon Square in central London, with the trust also lobbying for a commemorative blue plaque to mark the house nearby where she spent time with her family.